Katherine Keating served the United States of America through three wars, sailed around the world, was the first woman in the Navy to rise from Seaman Recruit to Captain (the highest rank in the Medical Service Corps in which she served), was only the second female pharmacy officer, the first woman pharmacist to attain the rank of captain, the first woman in the Medical Service Corps to go to sea, and the first woman officer to replace a male officer at sea. Captain Keating retired a decorated officer after a distinguished 30-year career.
Kay Keating was a pharmacy student at the University of Colorado when she enlisted in the WAVES in the middle of World War II, one of the first group of U.S. servicewomen to serve overseas during the war. She was a radio operator under the sugarcane fields of Hawaii. At the end of the war, Keating returned to Colorado, became a member of the Naval Reserve, finished her pharmacy degree at CU, and was then appointed to the Medical Service Corps. During the Korean War, Captain Keating was assigned to the hospital ship USS Haven, a tour which included evacuating French Foreign Legion survivors of the Dien Bein Phu battle. Keating then served at an EVAC hospital in Japan during the Vietnam War. As an authority in the pharmaceutical field, Keating was the Chief of Pharmacy Service at six large naval hospitals and an instructor at the Pharmacy Technician School in San Diego, California. In 1993, Keating was one of the women pharmacists honored when a new statute was added to the American Pharmaceutical Association’s Flagpole Memorial, to commemorate the service of military pharmacists from the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf conflicts.
Keating retired from the Navy to her childhood home of landlocked Beulah, Colorado, where she ran a B&B to accommodate people from around the world and became a pillar of the community. The City Council of Pueblo declared March 24, 2006 as Kay Keating Day. Keating was one of the moving forces and largest fundraiser behind the Colorado portion of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery and remains active in efforts to recognize all female veterans of Colorado as part of the memorial.